Like something out of the DaVinci Code, there are seven ancient monasteries known as the Sacred Line of Saint Michael the Archangel who stretch between Ireland and Israel and which are perfectly aligned.
A mysterious imaginary line links seven monasteries, from Ireland to Israel. Is it just a coincidence? These seven sanctuaries are very far from each other, and yet they are perfectly aligned. According to legend, the line represents the blow with which St. Michael sent the devil to hell.
These alignment of these sanctuaries is astonishing: the three most important sites, Mont Saint Michel in France; the Sacra of San Miguel in Val de Susa; and the Sanctuary of Monte Sant’Angelo in the Gargano are all the same distance one from the other.
If all this was not surprising enough, the Sacred Line also is perfectly aligned with the sunset on the day of the Northern Hemisphere’s Summer Solstice
Skellig Michael, Ireland
The line begins in Ireland, on adesert island, where Archangel Michael would have appeared to Saint Patrick, to help him liberate that country from the devil. Here stands the first monastery of the line, that of Skellig Michael, Michael’s Rock. Fans of the latest Star Wars installments will recognize this site.
The line then heads south and stops in England on St. Michael’s Mount, a Cornish islet which, at low tide, joins the mainland. Here, St. Michael is said to have spoken to a group of fishermen.
Mont Saint Michel, France
The sacred line then goes on to France, on another famous island, in Mont Saint-Michel, also one of the places in which St. Michael has appeared. The beauty of this sanctuary and the bay in which it is located, off the coast of Normandy, makes it one of the most visited tourist sites in all of France.
Since the times of the Gauls, this place has been considered mystical. In 709, the Archangel appeared to Saint Aubert, urging him to build a church in the rock. The works began immediately, but the Benedictine abbey was not fully built until the year 900.
Sacra Di San Michele, Italy
About 1000 kilometers away, in Val de Susa, the fourth sanctuary arises the Sacra di San Michele. The very same straight line links this sacred place to the rest of the monasteries dedicated to Saint Michael.
The construction of the abbey began around the year 1000 and, throughout the centuries, new structures have been added to the original building. The Benedictine monks also added an inn, because this holy place was on the way of the pilgrims that traveled through the Via Francigena.
Santuario Di San Michele Archangelo, Italy
Moving another thousand kilometers in a straight line, one reaches Puglia, where an inaccessible cavern has become a sacred place: the Sanctuary of Saint Michael. Its story goes back to the year 490, when St. Michael appeared to San Lorenzo Maiorano.
Archangel Michael of Panormitis Monastery, Greece
From Italy, the archangel’s footprints reach the sixth sanctuary. This one is in Greece, on the island of Symi. This monastery houses a three-meter-high statue of the Archangel, one of the largest in the world.
The exact historical date of the construction of this church and monastery, remains unknown but some suggest that it was built around 450 AD over the site of an ancient temple dedicated to the pagan god Apollo. It is known for certainty that the existing church underwent a major renovation in the 18th century to bring it to the standard that is in existence today.
Stella Maris Monastery, Israel
The Sacred Line ends in Israel, at the Stella Maris Monastery or the Monastery of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, in Haifa. This place has been revered since antiquity, and its construction as a Christian and Catholic sanctuary dates back to the 12th century.
Another Carmelite monastery of the same name (Monastère Notre-Dame-du-Mont-Carmel in French) is reserved for nuns and is located higher up on Mount Carmel.
In the 12th century, during the Crusader rule of the region, groups of religious hermits began to inhabit the caves of this area in imitation of Elijah the Prophet.
The Carmelite Order eventually built a church and the oratory to the Virgin Mary in her aspect of Our Lady, Star of the Sea, (Latin: Stella Maris).
The present location of the monastery is directly above the grotto where the prophet Elijah is said to have lived. The monks first cleared the site of the ruins of a medieval Greek church, known as "the Abbey of St. Margaret" and a chapel, thought to date back to the time of the Byzantine Empire.
This new church was seriously damaged in Napoleon’s 1799 campaign. Sick and wounded French soldiers were accommodated in the monastery, and when Napoleon withdrew, the Turks slaughtered them and drove out the friars.
In 1821, Abdullah Pasha of Acre ordered the ruined church to be totally destroyed, so that it could not serve as a fort for his enemies, while he attacked Jerusalem. The masonry was used to build a Abdullah Pasha's summer palace and a lighthouse, which were sold back to the Carmelite order in 1846.
The current church and monastery, built under the orders of Brother Cassini of the Order, was opened in 1836. Three years later Pope Gregory XVI bestowed the title of Minor Basilica on the sanctuary, and it is now known "Stella Maris", meaning Star of the Sea. For much of the 20th Century it was occupied by the Military, first the British, and later the Israeli, but at the end of their lease it was handed back to the Order.
A portion of this article appeared in Aleteia
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